My DC Pal, Strother Gaines is the guest on the podcast this week and does a great job sharing and talking about his coaching work through but really spent some time with podcast host Lisa Cummings, StrengthsFinder Speaker/Trainer at Lead ThroughStrengths on the insights and the pitfalls that happen when we stay stuck and forget how to be more than the “character” we play in life. I so share his feelings that after so much effort in the academic or real world efforts towards a carrer – it can become a struggle to then find that it, as you achieve, it may not be what you hold as the reason to wake up each day.
 Team Unicorn
“it’s a lot easier to just be a horse, blend in and call it a day but a Unicorn can’t do that.
It’s impossible to hide how awesome it is because it’s got a giant horn on it’s head.
Everyone can see it. Everybody knows. There’s nowhere to hide and a Unicorn doesn’t want to.” 
— Strother Gaines,
I really resonated on his thoughts about the importance that we have to taking responsibility towards being “our best self”.  Something I have shared on before, when I frame the need for our “being the best we can be, for ourselves first”.  I know it is not an easy process. The economic and emotional impact of how others see a change, all play a crucial deciding role in that moment where we get the chance to “turn & pivot”. I encourage you to take some time and visit and listen to the podcast in its entirerty.

I also found some really great resources, you may want to check out both on Strother’s site: as well as on Lisa’s webite: 

Check out Strother’s get-to-know-him video and the full TEDx talk on Storytelling as well.

Strother Gaines Podcast on

This Episode’s Focus on Strengths, Authenticity and Connection with Unicorn Strother Gaines

This week Lisa chats with Strother Gaines, where they talk about using your strengths to maximize the authentic “you” at work.  Strother works with a lot of clients who feel trapped in other people’s expectations. This interview will help you look at your innate talents and focus on who you are at your natural best. By doing that, you’ll make stronger connections in your career because you’re not working so hard at showing up like you think you’re supposed to at the office.
















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#MentorSFCA Moments nonprofits

From one of the #MentorSFCA Moments recently posted on Twitter.

Nonprofits don’t always have the access to the leading edge of tech or traiing. So it’s good to share tips when I can. I’ve been a fan of Craig Newmark efforts with nonprofits for several years and it’s not becuase we have ever met. Note: we had spoken a few years back on a project I was working for the Health Department. Rather he doesnt stop moving. He trys new things out, samples them, then if they seem to success, he finds the right people to handle them, he reaches out to those who can benefit from his efforts, then, he is off to a new adventure to discover. Even when he didnt quite get the need, he was at least open to listening to a pitch. At least that has been my take on him

On his blog he recently shared this article.  I  impressed with its simplicity and clarity – sometimes these “5 Things” or “10 Ways To…” really are just a fancy way for those trying garnish more metrics and meaurements either from hits or revenue (ie SEO). No if you don’t know Search Engine Optimization (or SEO) which is really just the fancy way to figure out how to measure what you are dong online and increase impact.  One of the limitations I think that SEO recommandations have is that they are more often than not – marketing driven. Weak in an understanding of communications (health or otherwise) or “call to action” from the service side. Something that I think nonprofits often need more of.

So occassionally when I come across some lists that really are content driven and have value worth sharing (and if they get Craig strong ompimazation in the mean time great!), as this one is, I’ll willing to share it out. As someone who works routinely with small health and social justice non-profits, many of which lack big funders, or in house tech – these were great reminders.

For the full article visit: 

Curated via post 

5 Things Nonprofits Should Be Doing On Social Media

I’l not repost his list and all the content, because well  – its his. But did want to tease with the 5 bullets and encourage you to check out the short read over that new cup of coffee or while waiting in line (jsut not while in your car please).

1. Keep up with the latest trends. (Not even gonna touch this one, but you can read more here on StoryTelling or my Engage Post on the Power of Telling Stories  and my own ideas on that)

2. Write the content that you want shared. (That means, you have to script what you want shared)

3. Team up with allied orgs and your biggest supporters to host a Twitter Chat. (Partnerships come in all shapes and sizes – use them creatively.)

4. Don’t add punctuation to a hashtag.  (I might add — think about the reasons behind using a hashtag as well)

5. Make sure your content is mobile-friendly. (Yeah – that means you might need to spend some money to redesign that inhouse template website to ensure its functional)



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NTEN’s 18NTC for those working and leading nonprofits

Posted June 25, 2017 By Frank Strona

NTEN’s 18NTC for those working and leading nonprofits and ready to expand the boundaries of social media & digital opportunities

For those of you looking to expand your networking and socializing with others in the nonprofit sector with a love and head for social media, data, and communication – you will want to put the annual NTEN ( 18NTC ) sponsored the conference in New Orleans on your calendar for 2018. I attended it last when it was held in Austin (#15NTC).  I can honestly say that it was some of the best minglings of folks I had seen in a while. Strong on women and diversity representation – the diverse and creative blending of the presenters, vendors and top notch attendees really made this the event for the  “limited travel budget” goer one worth advocating.

From #15NTC co-presented workshop

To find out more about the 18NTC conference, visit: (#18NTC for those of you who follow your hashtags on twitter).  Now if you can’t wait till then – they have several other tech conferences remaining in 2017 including:

>>> Albuquerque New Mexico in September for the Nonprofit Tech Roundup/Digital Strategy event

>>> Portland Oregon in October for the NonProfit Tech Roundup

Engaged Learning from NTEN

Other ways for you to get involved with NTEN is to visit and sign up for some of its educational programming both online and in-person. They also have a “Nonprofit Technology Professional Certificate” program but I haven’t experienced that, so can’t speak much on it but you can read more on it here:

For a full list of events visit the NTEN Events Calendar  

For those of you curious about NTEN itself – check out its mission and values statements – something they proudly put forward upfront and visible.
This is somewhat why I find these folks so powerful and compelling. They aren’t just tossing together a social media “extravaganza”. Not that there is anything innately wrong with an excuse to have a party – because these folks do know have to have fun. But they really understand the unique way that digital technology partners with health and community services, nonprofit and planning.

You may also want to think about joining the NTEN membership.

Annual membership offers reduced rates on events and the online trainings.  Information on becoming a member can be found here:
Membership rates are affordable. Especially compared to the over priced rates you see from marketing and for-profit organizations. Many of the higher priced ones focus on SEO and “sales-thinking” over social justice and the unique needs of the nonprofit.  The membership rates range from $99 for an individual. They offer a tiered rate system for organizations from $195 to $1000.  Both non-profit and for profit organizations are welcome to become members. Other member benefits are listed on it’s membership page.





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‪If you liked the @hacktheprocess episode (ep43) featuring my interview and the journey I took towards becoming me. [You can see my #Engage! post on it here:

Check out the latest podcast ep44 featuring @SatoriPrime and hear how these two spin experience toward mindful marketing & #coaching

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Everyone makes the journey to success that works for them. Here is one version of mine. What will yours be?

Earlier last week, an interview I sat for, from the Hack the Process (HTP) podcast  program went live on Soundcloud and iTunes .

Balancing Activism, Privilege, and Social Media with Frank Strona on Hack the Process Podcast, Episode 43


While it is always with some nervousness I share some of my thoughts and history around the opportunities and directions I took towards becoming who I am today. HTP host M. David Green couldn’t have made it much easier and more comfortable. One of the parts I liked best was that he also takes the extra time to add various links mentioned during the interview and lists them below the podcast itself the HTP podcast website  Allowing folks to read more about the mentioned resources or people.

When Episode 43 launched the other morning, I took some time to listen to it (or rather me) share and answer some of his questions. My first thought was – “Really?? – 45 mins of me! thats a lot of me“. But as I listened, what I heard was a series of vignettes and stories that illustrated a journey that had both intertwined and intersections from work, love, family, pain, identity, perseverance, and survival. Sometimes I was on linear path towards a goal and other times I was working concurrently in parallel. I hope to be take some time over the next month to edit the sound file into smaller more digestible sound bites and create some more personally narrative posts to share some of my more individual life lessons.

But in the mean time – please feel free to listen and/or share my story with your lists, students, friends. I intend to leave the comment box open on this post for people can add comments here if you choose not to leave them on the podcast site.


Note: If you choose to share the link by Twitter or on, include my profile @FVStrona. If you want to share on your own blogs – link back to here as well!

About Hack The Process and it’s host M. David Green: He is a writer and agile business coach, and the founder of Agile That Works, a consultancy that helps people in engineering organizations collaborate more effectively to make constant improvement a daily practice.If you have ideas or a pitch  to be a guest on the podcast, they have a page just for that!






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Can you across this article today that really triggered something that I’ve been observing in various social and academic disciplines. Th growing resistance to have uncomfortable, challenging conversations with new professionals, students, and those who we disagree with. 

Fact: I can disagree with you and still like you

Fact: I don’t have to like you to agree with you

It’s not harsh. It’s realistic and time for us to stop sugar coating discussions because it may make some people uncomfortable. Respectful and engaged dialoges can be uncomfortable, you can make those involved in the process struggle, stretch,  reconsider their actions and their thoughts. The ability to stay in that “uncomfortable moment” is what gives birth to that process. 
But we’ve moved away from the honesty of discussions towards a misaligned interpretation “correctness” that seeks insist that discussions be more like “playing nice” instead of being a process that achieves a common unified outcome. 

To achieve any level of comfort, means you must struggle and get through the discomfort.

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Photography by the very talented InkedKenny via

Folks- kinky or not.. this is a quick resource that is very handy to have. No matter if it is for yourself, friends or clients – knowing who and what is available to support those with substance use concerns is critical on many levels of a person’s life.

Take a few minutes to read it, post it and share it, if you haven’t already done so: Getting Help with Drug and Alcohol Abuse — A San Francisco Bay Area Quick Resource Guide

Along the same lines you might want to check out the post by Luke Adams of;  which also addresses some interesting connecting between substance use and sex: Hot Fetish and Kink — Without Being Lit

Note: Luke Adams ( is a certified sexual health specialist with the American College of Sexologists, offers relationship advice and other psychotherapy, and is a lifetime member of the Association for Transpersonal Psychology.

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While reading some of my morning bloggers, I came across this one today that prompted me to pause. Mostly because it’s been a growing theme I continue to see and bothers me both as a leader and as a participant on many teams/colleague based processes.

The 9 questions that uncover the most surprising insights from employees Written by Claire Lew from

Check out the full article above – its a great read and has some really insightful thinking behind it.

I found this hit home for me— I see it all the time; leaderships on paper will be ready to “evaluate” and do “365’s” on the workforce, teams, products — even themselves. But when you really do a deep dive into the text of the questions chosen; you find they either the senior leader themselves or the supporting posse of “yes people” create these assessments with imbedded passive resistance, fear and lack of self commitment built into the frame of the questions and the limitations on the ways the workforce can respond. The really tough ones are cached in soft language — often because the senior leader may have a sensitivity to hearing the raw reaction of his or her workforce. Worse yet is the survey that comes out that illustrates how little the top levels understand the supporting teams. Inevitably the final set of questions are so bland and “safe” that staff and teams are forced to “answer” the best or option that isn’t even reflective of opinion, over be able to indicate how they truly might respond.

I think for any real measure of success (especially for all you band-wagon jumpers trying to force feed organizations with Sigma Six and Lean systems) should allow the workforce to provide the survey questions — NOT your communications or “advisory” cabal. Then allow you, to hear the results in real time, with out any sanitized review. This pervading theme of  “I don’t want any surprises” form of leadership instills fear and minimizes efficient change and growth at the cost of a few egos.

Each time I hear a senior leader, when asked about staff retention rates and sinking morale, and I hear them spin it as a soundbite to play better with the more senior boss or colleagues with the we did our job frame – I want to scream -“NO, You Haven’t”. Being told and reading such lines as  “Well as they move on, I feel I have done my job, our (insert org) has trained those people to go on and succeed elsewhere based on the amazing work they do, so I don’t see it as a problem or retention…

So it always makes me wonder if they even care how disingenuous that sounds or as simply that ignorant of what that sounds like to folks struggling to keep up on the increasing demands. The teams are leaving not because they want to in many cases, but because they are being made to feel unsafe, devalued and unchallenged. This isn’t industry specific. I have seen it from the non-profit to the for profit, private and public sectors. Because ultimately it is easier to let good people go, than step up and change an work environment that requires the senior leadership to change and actually put effort being buzz words like “transparency” “change leadership”, “workforce morale” and “staff development”.

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A leader who cares could be the problem itself.

Posted May 5, 2017 By Frank Strona

I really enjoy this article from 2015 on “Three Ways to Coach the Person, Not the Problem” and found one quote telling  “… a leader who cares about growing and developing your people, has to coach them, not their problems”  until the moment I realized that for some, the leader is the problem itself… as has so well documented in the last several weeks nationally, but also in many local and city programs, we still have an institutional breakdown on how to fix leadership from the bottom up.

With so many leaders moving and pushing towards Sigma Six and Lean processes for efficiency and looking at these as a way to improve patient care (in the likes of public health, which these trending methods have become the “in” fix for the last several years) – I find that many of those same senior leaders avoid asking the hard evaluative questions about the leadership they themselves are representing. Yet they are all about making it crucial that they put this on the Directors that report to them.

This distance and lack of “real” honesty about self-awareness and critical feedback to all levels is where I see the big fail is on these new “lean” systems.

Taken from the article and how I would so love to see more answer…

Ask Questions with the Word “You” in Them:  Questions that have “you” in them put the focus on the person, not the problem. They cause people to think and reflect. Examples include:

  • What are you trying to accomplish?
  • What’s important about that to you?
  • What have you tried so far?
  • What’s got you stuck?
  • What else could you do?
  • What would you need to do that?
  • What are the next few steps you could take to move things forward?

For the full story visit “Three Ways to Coach the Person, Not the Problem

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Ed. Note:  I recently came across the original of this post, which I wrote several years ago for a workshop series I was doing on “Burnout” and a corresponding feature magazine.  While reviewing it, it struck me as well 
 worth taking some time to revise. Updating and expanding on some of the “lessons learned” based on my own life experiences and those from clients with whom I have had the pleasure to assist since.

This isn’t the only way to see or navigate through “Burnout” of any kind. This is just one lens I found helpful and others have resonated with, so I offer it to you in the spirit of sharing and encourage you consider this a “gift of experience”.


As with any activity that takes up large amounts of time and effort, staying a sexually active, aware, and engaged person can reach a stage in your life when it begins to lose some texture and meaning. When this happens, these moments feel less pleasurable and satisfying. For you “my sex is fine, thank you,” readers out there, you can replace the word “sex” with work, love, volunteering etc.

For many people, the warning signals or “flags” that pop up when in burnout are buried under the many levels of stress that we all operate under on a day to day basis. The potential outcome can range from a loss of enjoyment or satiation, reduction in sex-seeking, or even poor negotiations with a sexual partner. Left unchecked, it also could be the basis for relationships to change, leading to a growing sense of isolation and an overwhelming feeling of unhappiness with yourself and/or friends.

The reality of being “burnt-out,” whether emotionally, physically, professionally, mentally and/or sexually, doesn’t just “happen.” It slowly accumulates over a period of time until a sense of awareness emerges that some activities have begun to hold less of our attention or interest. We may find ourselves with a reticence to be available to others and lacking the motivation to continue relationships and activities. Being “burnt-out” isn’t a place you have to stay in, or have to even go to, but it does mean having a daily awareness of how you feel.

Had I known some of these tips I am sharing below, and kept the list handy when it happened to me, I could have saved myself time, money and self-doubt over the months that followed. But what I did learn was some of the following ways of keeping my own love and sex life fresh and exciting. More importantly, I learned to give back to myself as much as I give out.

Below is just a few personal queries that I have learned that help to identify the potential “flags” to burn-out, and some thoughts on how to transition through it. If you have a serious situation, or need further support, I suggest you contact a friendly therapist to help you negotiate this journey.

The MentorSF Self Assessment for “Burners To Be”

I found that keeping this list handy, and visible in a place you can occasionally glance at, is a good way to “check yourself” without obsessing over it. Just the simple glance at some of these statements can serve as a reminder of the art of engaged self-examination and is a useful guide for routine personal care.

  • Does being social feel like a “work assignment”?
  • Am I canceling dates and intimate time?
  • Do I have a lack of interest?
  • Am I lacking of motivation?
  • Am I feeling fatigue or have vague “illness” type feelings when the thought of some “activities” are proposed?
  • How in-touch with people do I remain?
  • Have I put up communication road-blocks with partners or friends?
  • Am I mentally finding it hard to concentrate during work or social time?
  • Has coming up with new ideas become difficult?
  • Am I creating ways to establish “detachments” from friends, memberships or activities?
  • Am I overbooking myself?
  • Have I noticed an inability to say “No” to partners?
  • Do I have an awareness of performance anxiety and/or feelings of inadequacy?
  • Has my sense of “self-criticism” become very loud, er or uncomfortable?
  • Are people mentioning to me that I seem more irritable, or that I am showing signs of excessive anger during or after some activities?
  • Have I increased in my use of drugs/alcohol, been smoking more, or been overeating or underrating or bingeing and purging on food?
  • Am I willing to overlook negotiations and/or safety precautions, either for myself or with partners?

Get your printable Self Assessment here: MentorSF Self Assessment for “Burners To Be”

15 Reminders For Staying Engaged & Present

There are lots of ways to keep your life fresh, vibrant, and exciting. But they all take a first step, which you have to do for yourself, in your own time and using ways that feel right for you. Over the years, I have experienced (or spoken with friends who have tried) various techniques. One that seems to be continually mentioned is learning how to limit yourself to those experiences about which you feel safe and good, and to recognize the amount of intimacy and awareness you need to stay present and fulfilled. Take a look at my top 15 reminder below. (But remember, this list is not complete, and should not be used as a replacement for a train
ed professional therapist.)


  1. Your sexual and social life is not the place to keep up with the Joneses. Do it to keep your own head and heart full, not those of your friends.

  2. Know why you want to socialize with a specific person(s), or do a certain type of activities.

  3. Learn something or better yet “Relearn it”. Show up at a class for something you think you know how to do. Shut-up, sit down and listen, keep your “experiences” out of the class that night. You might just hear why again you enjoyed doing it in the first place.

  4. Learn the difference between lust and intimacy; and know which place you want to operate from.

  5. Take a break or time away. There is no immutable law saying you can’t go a period of time without extra work, being social, or having sex.

  6. Talk to your friends and, especially, your partners about your feelings. This isn’t a time to keep them in the dark. 

  7. Keep in mind that sex and romance is fluid in nature. Therefore, your interest levels and turn-ons will change over time. You may need (and want!) to examine some new techniques or activities.

  8. Break your routines. Modify the style or order in which you do things. Change-up the places you meet people, your seduction techniques, how you dress, the kinds of entertainment you default too or even how you start your day.

  9. Never do anything because you feel you “have to.” Learn to say “NO”.

  10. Do something with a beginner, not to “teach,” but to enjoy the experience of newness, and of learning.

  11. Know what you want, know what you need, and know the differences between them.

  12. Learn to recognize your limits and those of the people around you.

  13. Recognize “what you bring to the table.”

  14. Value yourself.

  15. Be willing to forgive. No one gets it right the first time and can sustain change without practice and the occasional fail.

Remember  – changing patterns takes consistency and rime. It’s a a valuable contribution of energy to yourself so don’t try to cheat it.

Get your printable reminder list here: 15 Reminders for staying Engaged and Present via

You Do Have It Within You

None of these ideas are unique. Most of us can have a personal “Aha!” moment at any given time. My thinking behind this list is to help you explore different tools to keep in your conscious thoughts while working through your burnout period. Now, ask yourself, “How can I practice more than five from this list daily or weekly?!”



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